As the youngest player and top scorer in one of the most memorable championship games in European basketball history, forward Kostas Papanikolaou proved early and often that he had the heart of a champion. His opportunistic offense and stellar defense saw Papanikolaou became integral to Olympiacos Piraeus capturing the only back-to-back Turkish Airlines EuroLeague titles of the decade.
Papanikolaou became a starter at age 20, and a season later trailed only legends Vassilis Spanoulis and Andrei Kirilenko in scoring at the 2012 Final Four in Istanbul. Papanikolaou made 8 of 8 field goals that weekend, the most without a miss in Final Four history. And he timed them well, with 6 of his game-high 18 points coming in the final 3 minutes of a 19-point second-half comeback to upset CSKA Moscow for the crown. A year later, after winning the Rising Star Trophy, he and Olympiacos repeated as champs by rallying from 17 points behind to stop Real Madrid for the title in London.
- EuroLeague Champion
- Rising Star
- Led the EuroLeague in 3-pts percentage
Papanikolaou is poised to become just the 11th player of the decade to collect more than 1,500 points and 800 rebounds. He also ranks 11th in steals since 2010. Numbers, though, don't measure the character he showed in helping Olympiacos reach three championship games, and win two of them, in the 2010s.